Assange case dropped by Swedish prosecutor
Prosecutors in Sweden said on Friday that they would drop their preliminary rape inquiry against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.
READ MORE: Swedish prosecutor drops case against Julian Assange
Stay with RT for the latest updates on this developing story.
19 May 201718:45 GMT
“The decision by the Swedish prosecutor only highlights the fact Mr. Assange has been unlawfully detained for years,” Barry Pollack, Assange’s US-based attorney, told RT via email.
“At this point, it is more apparent than ever that the UK should provide Assange safe passage to Ecuador. Recent comments by the United States Attorney General and Director of the CIA demonstrate the obvious need of Assange for asylum. The UK has no legitimate basis to interfere with Ecuador's lawful decision,” he added.
- 16:07 GMT
He was repeatedly critical of the European Union and claimed that the UK had been exploited by the process it entered into with the EU.
He reasserted a point, made earlier on Friday via the WikiLeaks Twitter account, that the UK has refused to confirm or deny that a US extradition warrant exists.
UK states it will arrest Assange regardless & refuses to confirm or deny whether it has already received an extradition request from the US.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 19, 2017
- 16:03 GMT
Assange claimed that the United States, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions have all said Assange and WikiLeaks staff do not have any rights.
“Threats against WikiLeaks and its staff will not be tolerated… It is a right for all people to seek, receive and enjoy asylum.”
- 16:00 GMT
He thanked the United Nations, Ecuador and its people and his legal team, who worked without charge to earn this "important victory.”
While he thanked the people of Ecuador, and their asylum system profusely, and acknowledged the intense economic pressure Ecuadorian exporters had been subjected to by the European Union, he concluded with a rather ominous statement:
“The road is far from over. The war, the proper war, is just commencing.”
- 15:58 GMT
He described the treatment of whistleblowers and publishers such as WikiLeaks by western governments as a threat to journalists around the world.
“The inevitable inquiry into what has occurred in this moment of terrible injustice is something that I hope will be about more than just me and this situation.”
- 15:58 GMT
“Detention and extradition without charge has become a feature of the European Union… In Sweden, indefinite detention is a policy. There is no limit to detention without charge. This is not how we expect a civilised nation to behave,” Assange said as he criticized the governments of Sweden and the UK, as well as the European Union as a whole.
“Extradition without charge is not something that we expect from the rule of law in the United Kingdom.”
- 15:51 GMT
Assange described the release of Chelsea Manning, an “alleged WikiLeaks contributor” as a more important victory, after she was released 28 years early. He encouraged the general public to continue to support him and WikiLeaks in the fight for freedom of asylum and freedom of the press.
“Precedents are being set about whether people have the right to seek asylum and whether we have the right to publish information,” he asserted.
“How can it be that a publisher operating and publishing from Europe can be extradited to the United States?” Assange asked.
- 15:50 GMT
“Today is an important victory for me and the UN Human Rights system,” Assange told those gathered, adding that he spent “seven years of detention without charge, in prison, under house arrest, almost five years at the embassy without sunlight.”
Assange said this is “not something I can forgive… is not something I can forget.”
- 15:39 GMT
Assange is now making his first official statement since Swedish prosecutors dropped their investigation against him on Friday morning. You can watch the stream below.
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- 15:11 GMT
The Ecuadorian government has requested that the UK give Julian Assange safe passage so he can seek asylum in the South American nation reports Reuters.
Assange has yet to make an appearance at the Ecuadorian Embassy, though reports are circulating that he will make a statement at 4.30pm local time.